THE FOUR YEAR FRIEND ZONE | Strouse House Chronicles: PART FIVE
ALLIE: After meeting in 2005, Brad, Fran and I became inseparable and often referred to ourselves as FAB (FRAN, ALLIE, BRAD.) Conveniently, FAB is also Fran’s initials. We shared a mutual love of pop punk, Myspace (where we both met Fran), Auburn, “All-You-Can-Eat” restaurant specials, movies and partying. (Us? Partiers? Never. Ha. Jay Kay.)
ALLIE: During the week between classes, you could find FAB hanging out in Haley Center against the right wall munching on Pop Tarts purchased with our TigerCards from the vending machine. This was monumental in our friendship because it’s when we discussed last weekend’s party, Brad’s new hairstyle (that he never asked our opinion on, thank goodness. Fran and I are the worst liars and this hairstyle was...different. See below.), this new band called Paramore and what show we were headed to that upcoming week.
(This is how selfies were taken back in the day, kids.)
ALLIE: On Monday nights we got together at Buffalo Connection where you could get “All-You-Could-Eat Wings.” If I remember correctly, Fran and I only went for the camaraderie because neither of us liked wings. We normally ended the night by listening to a new album one of us got. For the most part, those albums rotated between Panic! at the Disco, Paramore and Fall Out Boy. We would drive around Auburn for hours just listening to the album and talking because that was way more fun than sitting in someone’s apartment and listening to it.
ALLIE: Tuesdays were spent watching Nip/Tuck after I got off work from Plato’s Closet and Brad had finished his show “Chainsaw Cafe” at the local Auburn Radio station - WEGL. He played any and every hardcore/metal band he could think of, even interviewing several local and national bands on air.
ALLIE: During one memorable Nip/Tuck Tuesday, we got adventurous and tried making a cake. By adventurous, I mean we made the thing in a blender because A. neither one of us knew how to bake (Sorry, Mom!), B. neither one of us owned a mixer (that changed once we got married) and C. we just wanted Funfetti cake (who doesn’t love Funfetti Cake on a random Tuesday night)! Let me tell you, a blender is NOT the best way to make a cake. Not only did the ingredients not get properly mixed up and we ended up with a very lumpy, but tasty cake, we also never let it cool before we iced it so a majority of the icing ended up on the floor of the fridge (because Brad is weird and likes all cake cold.)
ALLIE: Wednesdays were spent either trying to ride bikes to class or at “All-You-Can-Eat Spaghetti” at Brick Oven. (Can you see a theme? Poor college kids hitting up weekly restaurant specials like crazy.) I say trying to ride bikes because I did not have a bike in college so when I rode one, it was often Brad’s spare bike that was WAY too big for me and if I ever fell off, it was a nice little fall.
ALLIE: Thursdays were the day where we shot (photographed) a lot of Greek Socials. Neither one of us was in a Sorority or Fraternity, so we always spent their socials taking at least 150 pictures at F/8 & 125, per Flip Flop Foto where we ended up working together. (I use the “together” word lightly because Rob, Pam and Alison of Flip Flop Foto never once let us actually work the same event or wedding. More on that in a minute.) There may have been a time or two where I needed Brad to cover my shift because I overindulged at one to many happy hours, but that is neither here nor there (hey, it was college!). Sorry Rob!
ALLIE: The weekends were spent completely involved with football. Fridays were spent prepping for Game Days. Auburn has a HUGE football culture so Saturdays were spent tailgating and hanging with friends/family and Sundays weren’t just recovery days for the football players, if you know what I mean. (Remember, we were young and loved to party.)
(Sorry for the picture of a picture.) This was our second picture together during Sophomore year!)
ALLIE: One particular Saturday during Sophomore year, Brad’s family (grandparents and all) came to visit. I was chilling at his house when he mentioned he had to grab dinner with his family. Being the super forward person I was, I asked if I could tag along because HEY - they were eating at Johnny Carinos, one of my favorite places at the time. When Brad called his parents to ask, if I remember correctly, he asked with the exact phrase “Allie invited herself and wants to come to dinner.” (What? I am an opportunist.) His parents graciously said yes and asked if this Allie girl was a girlfriend. This was probably the beginning of getting asked that question. Every time it was asked, we (or maybe just me) would always laugh, scoff and reply “Oh, we are NOT dating. We’re just best friends.” His parents kindly replied “uh huh, sure. She can come.” I think his parents and grandparents knew at that time what the future held.
BRAD: Even though we saw other people throughout those four years, we were still always together, doing just about everything. We ended up in the same major so we started to see each other (as friends) every day. Every group project, we were partners. (We wrote a 30 page paper together!) We took notes for the other when one of us (Allie...always Allie) skipped class and we woke each other up when we fell asleep in class. Ok - again, just Allie. I woke her from a deep 8AM class slumber just as our extremely strict professor noticed and called her out in front of the whole class.
ALLIE: What? I had just worked a social until 2am, I was sleepy. :-P
ALLIE: Speaking of working together, I mentioned I used “working together” lightly. We worked at Flip Flop Foto with Rob, Pam and Alison, some of our favorite people in the world. (They are the reason we are here today as Strouse Photography. Without them we would never have learned enough to be your wedding photographers. Thank you to them times a million!) Even though we BOTH worked there for 3, almost 4 years, we never once actually worked together. Maybe covered for each other, but we never worked together. We later found out it was because they knew what would eventually happen.
ALLIE: There came a time during Senior year where our friendship took a little turn. I remember it like it was yesterday. I had just gotten out of a relationship. Brad had just started a new one and I was just not having it. Some other girl was taking his time that I always occupied and I was jealous. There. I said it. I was jealous!
ALLIE: One Monday evening during senior year, we started walking from his apartment on East Magnolia to our film class that was 3 hours long every Monday. (It was actually the best class, we watched movies and then analyzed it. I am pretty sure some of our friends started joining us just to see the movie.) As we were walking, I was about 10 paces behind. I looked up and saw Brad wearing his black With Blood Comes Cleansing shirt, skinny jeans and all black converse and thought “Hm, I could date him.” Of course, I never once told him this during that time because we were just friends. But I thought it and for me, it was an insane turn of thought. This man was my best friend for three years. We did everything together. We knew each other so well and that moment was THE moment I thought...I knew...we could date.
The infamous black chucks.
ALLIE: I wasn’t alone in this thought because a few weeks later, after one of our Nip/Tuck watching parties (is it really a party if it’s just us?), I headed home. I was getting ready for bed when I received a text from Brad. Not uncommon, even if we were just with each other. I picked up my pink Razr (best phone ever) and read the words “We could date.” Stunned I read it again. “We could date.” What was he saying? Where did this come from? Did he have a moment like I did? I scoffed (I guess I did that a lot in college) and became extremely vulnerable. He couldn’t know that I actually liked him, too. I replied typing in the now vintage T9 mode with “haha, yea right.” I sat on my bed and just reread that text over and over again trying to tell myself that - nah, we don’t need to date, we are best friends. The next day, we continued our normal routine, but this time with the thought in the back of each of our heads that we were hanging out with our best friend turned crush.
BRAD: Let’s rewind for a quick second. From early on in our friendship I knew I wanted to end up with Allie, but we were having so much fun as best friends that I didn’t want to screw anything up….plus I was just horrible at reading signals from girls. The most infamous example of not reading signals from girls happened during sophomore year and is known in our family as the “tidy bed” incident. Some people know that I’m slightly OCD when it comes to making the bed each day. I ALWAYS make it in the morning and I like to see it that way until it’s time to go to sleep. Allie was hanging out in my room one afternoon, as she always did AS FRIENDS and started rumpling my bedspread and throwing the pillows just to mess with me. As I got more “fake annoyed”, she ramped up her efforts.
ALLIE: Please note there was no fake in his annoyance. Homeboy was legit irritated. Ok, sorry continue.
BRAD: There was a single make or break moment that would’ve been perfect for a kiss, but being a guy with no sense of romanticism, I blew it. I knew. Allie knew it. But looking back, it’s probably a good thing it never happened. It would have drastically changed the course of our friendship. We probably would have never become as close as we did and may have never ended up together! Everything happens for a reason. That reason, that we can see now, was so Allie could come to her own realization that we could and SHOULD date. That reason was so our friendship could turn into crushes. That reason was so the FOUR YEAR FRIENDZONE could turn into the PART 6 | DATING DANCE.
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